Like the Powel House, the Physick House combines attractive design and historical interest. The house is the area's most impressive -- free-standing but not boxy, gracious but solid. Built during the 1780s boom, with money from importing Madeira wine, it soon wound up housing the father of American surgery, Philip Syng Physick (a propitious name for a physician). The usual pattern of neglect and renovation applies here, on an even grander scale.

All the fabric and wallpaper was fashioned expressly for use here, and the mansion as restored is an excellent illustration of the Federal style from about 1815. The drawing room opens onto a lovely 19th-century walled garden, and contains a Roman stool and 18th-century Italian art, collectibles that illustrate the excitement caused by the discovery of the buried city of Pompeii at that time. Look for an inkstand blessed by Ben Franklin's fingerprints. Dr. Physick treated Chief Justice Marshall, and Marshall's portrait and gift of a wine stand testify to the doctor's powers.